Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wednesday Duologues: Ashley Willard

Ashley Willard.  Editor and co-founder of Boston Band Crush, arguably the online lifeline & loveline of the Boston music scene.  And I got to spend the afternoon chatting with her!  But you can eavesdrop.


me: bah.  i won't bore you with tales of my workday. but i will apologize.
is now good?
Ashley: hi!
i mean if you can't it's ok
we can do it 'nother time
me: no way, now's great for me!
just let me take a deep drag, i mean sip of coffee.
almost 2 years since i quit smoking, in fact.
okay ready?
Ashley: gun it
me: who are you?
Ashley: where am i?
it's me ashley!
me: ha
Ashley: hi!
tell me when it starts
haha just kidding
you keep entering text and then deleting it
i see you doing that
me: okay, let me go back a few minutes and say "nnnnnNOW"

Ashley: GO!
me: okay you're ashley.
Ashley: yep
me: how are you, anyway?
Ashley: i'm good
i'm having one of those wonky days
where you just kind of feel off
i'm really terrible at mornings, you see
so the fact that i have to make important decisions early in the morning is very detrimental
oh yes this outfit definitely goes together
or, hey that's a great hairdo
those kinds of things
i shouldn't be trusted with them before mid-to-late afternoon
how are you?
me: i totally understand that. sometimes i think i should have someone around to veto decisions like that when necessary, before i leave the house.
but i actually really can't stand having anyone tell me what's cool and not cool to wear.
so that person would probably get fired really quickly.
y'know, i haven't really been sleeping since there was that stabbing in my neighborhood.
Ashley: OMG
me: it might make for some pretty interesting questions today.
Ashley: that's right
because you and mark (aka not brandon) live together
me: right
Ashley: he posted about that
i saw that
me: wait, why would i live with brandon? or, are mark and brandon interchangeable?
Ashley: oh you haven't heard the story
i told aaron the story
me: i actually live under a rock
Ashley: and then explained it to mark and brandon i think, after i called brandon mark at one night band
remember how we didn't know each other until somewhat recently?
me: lemme think back...
Ashley: i had seen this blue heaven play a few times before i knew any of you personally
and i'd blogged about you
and probably was facebook friends with a few of you
so, before i got to really know any of you personally, i knew your names
but somehow always thought brandon was the bassist and mark was the drummer
it was just in my head that way
and now all these months later, my brain sometimes reverts to that
even though i know very well which one is which
so at one night band, i start introducing the bedss, with whom brandon played drums, and i gushed on and on about how much of a life save mark desrosiers was for filling in the day before AND backlining his drums
and i wasn't even drunk yet
me: bah ha ha
Ashley: a little
me: did brandon interrupt you?
to correct you?
Ashley: kerri [OF APPLE BETTY WITH WHOM TBH WILL BE PLAYING ON 9/9 AT TT'S!] flagged me down
i had a microphone
so whether people were trying to correct me or not, i probably wouldn't have heard them
but kerri was on stage with me and she saved the day
me: nice
Ashley: it was how do you say embarrassing
it's a good thing those two guys are so nice and forgiving
me: that's awesome... i can't believe i missed it.
Ashley: yeah
i know
me: i think they were mostly stoked to be a part of it.
Ashley: i'm planning on moving one night band into september going forward
after two years the one thing i've learned is that a lot of people go away in august
this is something i hadn't thought of because i never go on vacation
me: never?
Ashley: [segway into next topic]
i think i'm going to montreal in october!
if i can get my passport in time
me: what's in montreal?
Ashley: french things
i hear
i've never been
me: so you're going for the french things?
Ashley: justin and i were talking this morning about how we need to get away
you know justin yes?
me: yes
Ashley: so we were talking about how we're both incredibly burnt out
and he said let's get away
and i said ok!
which is a big step for me
like, to let myself off the hook
and just go relax
me: because you never go on vacation...
Ashley: right
i never do things just for myself
cause i'm such a caretaker type
i'm always looking out for everyone else
and putting them before me
so this is good
i might even leave the laptop at home
me: good for you!
Ashley: the hotel we're going to has a heated pool
me: leaving the electronics behind is serious. and good.
Ashley: yeah, the internet's been getting me down lately
me: do you ever get the clicks?
Ashley: the clicks?
me: i think it's related to compulsive channel-surfing
sometimes on a boring afternoon i get the clicks - where i just keep refreshing FB or revisiting sites i forgot i already checked that day.
Ashley: where you refresh facebook all day?
all the time
not to mention that i can't separate myself from my goddamn iphone
this is what i mean when i say the internet's been getting me down lately
more specifically, it's my addiction to the internet
or reliance on
or whatever
me: right. i can never quite put my finger on what is so compelling.
Ashley: i don't want to know every little thing that everyone is thinking anymore!
me: right. it gets overwhelming.
Ashley: totally
of course
the internet is essentially what pays my bills
me: :)
Ashley: and that's not even accounting for the blog
me: well everyone's job/employer gets them down
Ashley: what would i do without it?
me: maybe this is a fun question to pose, then:
Ashley: i suppose i'd go outside a lot more
me: describe your perfect scene of solitude.
Ashley: oof
total solitude?
just me alone?
me: you could have a cat, maybe.
Ashley: oh good
my cat rules
(hi dummy!)
huh, i think one of my favorite things to do is swim
or be in water
it's something where you are totally alone inside your own head
you can't have conversations when you're under water
you definitely can bring an iphone
it's such a serene and tranquil feeling
i don't think i should bring the cat anymore
me: ha
probably not
what's your favorite kind of water?
er, body of water
Ashley: ahahaha
i thought you'd gone a little cuckoo there
me: (don't rule out cuckoo just yet)
Ashley: (back atcha)
i don't get to swim in natural bodies of water very often
i go to a pool
i'm very much not a beach person, so we'll say not ocean
i guess having grown up in the mountains i'd have to say a nice swimming hole in a river
there was one where i grew up that we called flat rocks
it was very calm and clear
we don't have anything like that in eastie
me: that sounds amazing. i think the best swim of my life was in the mountains. where did you grow up?
Ashley: i split time between waterville valley, nh and marblehead, ma
mom & stepdad lived in nh and i lived with them, went to school there, etc.
but visited dad & stepmom in marblehead regularly, went to summer camp there, etc.
so i had the best of both
mountains & oceans
me: even though you don't like the beach :)
are you an oldest child?
Ashley: i like the ocean, and my dad's a boat guy, so i grew up on boats
i don't think of marblehead as a beach town but i guess it kinda is
we had a private beach but it was all rocky, not sandy
i used to collect seaglass and shells and stuff and then i'd sell them
like a lemonade stand
actually i think we sold lemonade too
seashells and lemonade
anyway... you moved on and i didn't
me: that might be the most romantic scene, ever.
please feel free to linger.
i would.
Ashley: i am the only child of my mother and father
they split up when i was like 1
my father remarried first when i was 5, then had two sons with my stepmother
= my half-brothers ben & nate
and my mother remarried the following year
my stepfather had a daughter from his first marriage = my step-sister christine
me: i was thinking about what you said about caretaking earlier when i asked whether you were an oldest child...
Ashley: ah
me: to the extent that i'm a caretaker (and i've tried to learn to curb that) it's because i'm an oldest.
Ashley: i never lived in the same household with any of them
not never, but not for long with any of them
my sister lived with us for like two years
she was 16-17, i was 8-9
she scared me
and then i lived with my dad & the roost for a year just out of college
i was working for the boston phoenix and couldn't afford to live on my own
so sad
there's no money in the things i wanted to do
me: i wonder if there's money in any of the things people actually want to do.
are you doing what you want?

* * *
Ashley: wow!
power failure!
the whole building just went down
back up now
me: really? that's exciting!
Ashley: that was bizarre
i know!
probably the most exciting thing that'll happen to me this workday
me: did you hear it all go quiet?
Ashley: yep
me: i love that.
Ashley: quiet and dark
except for the gasps across the floor
i work in a cubicle jungle
me: mm
Ashley: am i doing what i want?
i don't think so
i wrestle with this all the time
i am a graphic designer
but the funny thing is, i have never studied graphic design
i went to school for journalism
so in terms of the blog, yes, i'm doing what i want to be doing
now if only that was a viable way to make a living
i do like design, and i can't imagine being in a non-creative field
but i'm a stranger in a strange land at my current job
i have nothing in common with anyone
they don't get me, i don't get them
we try to coexist
but it's definitely a weird fit
me: i understand. bleh. so... what about musicians? are we your people?
Ashley: yeah
me: actually i still don't feel 100% honest calling myself a musician. saying "we" there. funny.
Ashley: i still think it's funny to call myself one too
even though i own instruments and have played in, what, like 6 bands now
i still don't know what the heck i'm doing
me: right. i've played instruments and sung my whole life, but i still feel like kind of a visitor.
Ashley: totally!
me too
we'll get over it
but yes, musicians and creatives are generally my people
jocks = not my people
jocks = who i work with
i work for a major athletic company so
me: heh. my first creative writing class was the one time in my life i felt like "ohhhh YOU get me."
oh wow.
i see.
Ashley: there's just something about artists
we have a certain kind of soul
how do i say
me: the kind of soul that doesn't keep still or silent.
Ashley: it's just an energy, a certain kind of passion
me: or out of the action.
Ashley: to me we're very exciting and they're very flat
to them, we're cuckoo
i'm sure
they're linear, we're all shapy
they do things on a grid, we break the grid
to use a design analogy
it's just kind of like i don't really speak the same language as the people i work with
me: that can be really lonely.
so your dream job.
what would that be?
Ashley: it's very lonely!
duncan wilder johnson works here
in a separate department though
i never really see him
but like, he's the only one of my people that i know here
well actually eric schmider from the one smith works here too
but i never see him either
my dream job
if i knew the answer to that i guess i'd be doing something to get there
sometimes i think i should go back to school for design, like learn the stuff i never did
plus the newer technology
and sometimes i think i should look for work doing more editorial/writing stuff
now that i have the blog to show for myself
me: what are you most passionate about?
Ashley: sometimes i think event planning would be fun
but it's very stressful too
me: i do some of that as part of my job.
Ashley: there's very little stress in sitting in a cubicle with hardly any work to do
most passionate about?
me: i find it really stressful.
Ashley: music
despite not being a real musician
i'm passionate about it as a listener and experiencer
me: do you remember your first real, like... encounter with music?
Ashley: huh
well let's see
Ashley: depends on how i interpret the question
Ashley: i mean
i remember my first records and cassettes
i remember loving madonna, heart, cyndi lauper, depeche mode
culture club
tears for fears
like, in first grade
me: how were you exposed to all of that so young?
Ashley: i remember always really loving being in the school concerts and plays and stuff
even as early as nursery school
and, i have no idea!
how i found that particular music
because it certainly wasn't what my parents listened to
me: right
Ashley: my mother was always listening to things like boz scaggs and crystal gayle and juice newton
so it probably came more from my father
me: my mother loved crystal gayle.
Ashley: i do remember sort of discovering his vinyl collection
he had good taste
lots of stones, blondie, csny, stuff like that
me: ahh, nice
Ashley: christopher cross
that green record
oh and fleetwood mac!
lots of fleetwood mac
but how i fell in love with music so young, i have no idea
i can recall that as i got a little older, like 8 or so, the year that my mother & stepfather & i moved to nh
my mother went to work for the first time in my life
so i'd come home after school and be alone for a long time
and i didn't make friends right away when we moved
so my best friend was mtv
like for serious
i came home after school and watched mtv for hours
me: well there you go.
and there were videos on mtv back then.
Ashley: a lot of them!
all day long!
so yeah, that's what locked it in
but strangely i never really got into playing music as a kid
like, i took several years of piano lessons
so at least i have that foundation and can read music and stuff
but i once begged for a guitar, so my parents got me this little white kid-sized electric guitar
and i took like 2 lessons
was like "this shit is HARD"
and never really touched it again
you know, cause i wanted to come out of the gate playing like C.C. Deville or someone
me: right
Ashley: (i'm sure he was one of my idols around this time)
me: but the good guitar players spend their entire adolescent lives in their rooms practicing.
Ashley: which i wish i'd been encouraged to do
not necessarily with guitar, just with music
my parents were so lax with me
which was awesome at the time
i used to think my friends' strict parents were the worst
but man i coulda used a little discipline!
instead i spent my 20s f*cking up and figuring things out
me: heh - i'm still working on that.
did i just give away my age?
what did you learn?
Ashley: in my 20s?
me: right
Ashley: well
i think i learned (eventually) to like myself
that was big
i used to be so shy!
believe it or not
me: huh!
Ashley: i think i learned not to panic
mostly i learned about myself
like who i was, who i wanted to be
i learned not to settle for something that isn't quite what i want
me: that's a good one.
Ashley: yes, well that was the hardest lesson of all
me: it's really hard because you have to be able to distinguish between the things you need, the things that you only think you want or want for reasons that aren't really true to you, the things that you feel like you should want... etc. etc.
what do we have to settle for?
if we aren't doing what we want to be doing but it's how we eat...
Ashley: right
me: or pays for doctor appointments
what do you know for sure?
Ashley: is that rhetorical or are you really asking?
me: i'm really asking. what's one thing you know for sure?
Ashley: that none of it will matter in the long run as much as we think it does today
me: because?
Ashley: because it's all temporary
we're just a blip in the universe's
but like
to quote blues traveler, which i hate to do, but this song always stuck with me:
it won't mean a thing in a hundred years
we'll be gone and the next ones will be here sorting out their problems and challenges as if they're the most important thing
but they're not
as we're not
so just try to have fun
and not take it all so durn seriously
oh that wasn't all a blues traveler quote btw
"it won't mean a thing in a hundred years"
the rest was me
me: :) if i think that far ahead, i get stuck with even bigger questions about what matters, so i just try to think ahead to when i won't remember the struggle anymore.
we forget so much
and usually that really bothers me
but if i have to deal with something really unpleasant, it can be a comfort.
i won't remember the details one day. only the important things that might come out of it.
Ashley: i feel like i'm always putting out little fires
that really shouldn't have been started in the first place
but i guess there's the caretaker in me
me: right :)
Ashley: some people would probably walk right by
or not notice
 me: it's AMAZING to me how much people can not notice.
but i won't follow that tangent today.
Ashley: good call
me: heh
but since you took it to the level of the 'verse, i get to ask my doctor who question
so thanks!
Ashley: oh no!
i've never watched it!
is this final jeopardy?
i'm going to lose
me: oh, for our purposes that doesn't matter :)
Ashley: ok cool
me: although i have to tell you i think you should watch it.
Ashley: yeah i know
i will
me: my real plan is to try to build a serious following in the states. right now, bbc america has been airing episodes weeks after the brits get to watch them.
so i have to watch crappy versions online.
not important.
Ashley: i don't have cable
go on
me: so anyway. the doctor is a time lord and has this nice little machine called a tardis that can travel to any time, any place in the entire history of the universe.
TARDIS = time and relative dimension in space. not that it matters.
the question is, where would you want to go?
or when
Ashley: right, the thing that was on the dome
me: right
Ashley: i'd definitely go backwards, not forwards
i'm pretty pessimistic about the future
hmm, when would i go
maybe the '20s
not too many distractions
like we have now
me: except for people sitting on poles and having dance marathons and stuff
Ashley: yeah!
me: the fun stuff? :)
Ashley: you know in fried green tomatoes
whenever idgy and ruth lived
that would be pretty cool
i guess maybe that was a little later
i just always thought idgy was awesome
me: that's because she is.
Ashley: right
me: nice
also, now i'm really hungry, thinking about that movie.
Ashley: ah!
it is the 1920s!
according to imdb
  ^ see that's me not being able to let something go
i NEED answers
me: what did people do before the internet?
Ashley: they... fried green tomatoes?


me: absolutely they did.
Ashley: also was the old lady supposed to be idgy?
me: i think yes.
Ashley: i could never figure that one out
me: in the book she isn't.
but in the movie i think yes
Ashley: she gives that little smile at the end
me: exactly.
Ashley: that suggests it
spoiler alert
oops too late
me: whoopssss


but who hasn't seen fried green tomatoes?
mostly just grouchy people who don't like good movies.
i feel like.
Ashley: exactly
or, men maybe?
that's kind of a chick flick
me: it is.
i thought i might know a guy who liked it, but now i'm not sure.
Ashley: informal poll!
nick from the acre hasn't seen it
me: i guess i'll just make sure to post a spoiler alert on the blog :)
okay i think i've let us digress
can i shoot some of the short-answer questions at you?
1-2 word answers?
Ashley: sorry hang on!
actual work happening!
10 minutes after 5
this is what happens
me: hanging!
Ashley: izzy maxwell says fried green tomatoes is a great movie
matty king hasn't seen it
my friend erik who i've known forever hasn't seen the movie but he has eaten them
short answer!
hit me!
me: what makes you smile?
Ashley: my kitteh
me: what cracks you up?
Ashley: oh shoot i should have saved that one. let's see: arrested development
me: what makes you go "hmm"?
Ashley: america
me: what pisses you off?
Ashley: spelling errors
me: what freaks you out?
Ashley: lack of control
me: what makes you jump up and down and clap?
Ashley: you, and all the other awesome people i know
me: awwwwww
Ashley: seriously, i LOVE the people i love
me: okay that's magnificent.
two more questions!
Ashley: good cause i have to pee!
me: you get to pick both: one for you and one for me.
Ashley: ooh!
oh i have to pick the questions?
me: yup!
Ashley: i thought you meant you would tell me what they were and i'd assign them
me: also, you can pee first if you want to.
Ashley: this is way harder
no that's ok, i'll wait until we're done
cause at that point i'll be packing up and getting outta here
me: gotcha
Ashley: ok wow
well, for you
you seem to emit an air of confidence and happiness
what's the secret?
before i ever knew you, back when mark was brandon and vice versa, i always thought, she seems so comfortable on stage
she's totally got it down
me: well, i only go out in public when feeling confident and happy.
Ashley: ooh that's smart
me: okay not really.
Ashley: sometimes i go out when i feel down and sh*tty, in hopes that being out will help
sometimes it does, sometimes it makes it worse
anyway, this is your question
me: well i have managed to learn when i definitely need to stay away from people. those are generally good fried green tomato nights. :)
Ashley: ah yes
it is good to have such intuition
... it says you've entered text
so i'm waiting
me: well, as far as being onstage... i think i've always felt pretty comfortable up there.
Ashley: i hope you're not waiting on me
ok good
me: just thinking...
it's like... onstage, you have a built-in authority.
i've taught a bit in the past and it's the same thing.
meanwhile as a student in a class, my heart pounds just at the thought of raising my hand.
but when you're up front, the room or the audience is yours. somehow that dynamic just works for me.
Ashley: i understand!
i thrive in a scenario like one night band
like, when i've done something i'm proud of and want to share it
me: right
Ashley: i can get up on the stage at the middle east in front of a packed room and not even flinch
but like
put me in a meeting with strangers and i go mute
me: ugh i hate meetings with strangers.
Ashley: unless i'm smarter than them
me: totally. as far as happy goes, it really is a matter of willing it - of tapping into every ounce of hope and love i have for people and projecting that outward as much as i can.
Ashley: if i'm the expert, then i'll tell you what's what, i don't care who you are
me: exactly, you're the expert.
Ashley: but i'm not usually the expert
me: that hope/love thing has become what TBH is about for me.
a way of willing the world to be the way i think it should be.
if only for those few moments i get with people.
although my singing is hardly ever what i think it should be in loud live situations. :)
does that answer your question?
Ashley: yes!
i'm still trying to figure out how to sing in loud live situations
me: let me know the secret, if you work it out.
Ashley: something really worked at the so-so's show
i've been trying to re-channel it
i think it was the whiskey
me: sound at the lizard rules.
Ashley: do you still want me to ask me something?
me: yup.
what shall i ask you?
what question are you dying to answer for the world?
(or the 20 people who read my blog)
Ashley: this is hard because i think i'm kind of an open book anyway
but, let's see
what's next?
how about that?
cause there's exciting stuff
to me anyway
me: okay!
so ash, what's next for you?
Ashley: and now i'm trying to remember
let's see
well i have a new band
one-off of course, because that's how i roll
it's for a halloween show
we're called whores at the door and we'll be doing the pixies
it's me, nick murphy from the acre, al polk from streight angular & justin shapiro from big east
me: ooooh!
Ashley: so we start practicing next weekend
we're sharing st helena's space for a couple months
and then in mid-september i'm moving in with justin in brighton
so that's exciting
getting closer to work and stuff
me: no more eastie!
Ashley: yeah
that's kind of sad for me
i do like it there
but i also have some really bad memories there
which is a tangent we won't go on
me: okay
Ashley: it'll be nice to leave certain memories behind
then after i move, looks like i'm going to montreal!
me: good!
Ashley: then in december (i think), there will be a benefit show that i'm co-organizing
me: for the record, i think we can all agree you've earned yourself a vacation.
Ashley: all i ever wanted...
but yeah, working on a show for december with proceeds benefitting beth israel nicu in the name of emilia diguardia
the daughter of my longtime friend & bbc contributor C.D.
we're meeting tonight actually, me and the other gals
me: that's wonderful.
Ashley: sarah korval [OF THE BACKUP FACTOR WITH WHOM TBH WILL BE PLAYING ON 9/9 AT TT'S!]and katie puzo

we've got big plans for this and i'm really excited about it
C.D. has been writing about local music for a long time and people really appreciate him
me: (we TOTALLY do)
Ashley: and are very happy to be a part of this
so i think it will be a really awesome thing for him and his wife danyelle
me: absolutely wonderful.
Ashley: they know it's in the works but we're keeping some secrets
but it's gonna be awesome
leave it at that
me: :)
well i'm sure they will appreciate it. and i hope you know how much we all appreciate what you do for your people in Boston.
Ashley: ha
i do, that's kind of what keeps me going
me: :)
you're a good soul.
Ashley: it's hard!
but i don't want to let our readers down
me: (i narrowly avoided saying "generous soul" there, which would've given me a link opportunity)
Ashley: and i consider our readers to be my friends
whether i know them or not
me: (but now i've gone and said it.)
Ashley: haha!
and i don't want to let my friends down
me: that just makes me want to hug you.
Ashley: aw, promise?
me: still: vacation is good.
oh totally.
Ashley: good
me: just sayin'
Ashley: perfect
but i do have to get going
they're wondering why i'm still here 45 minutes after the workday ended
plus i still really have to pee
me: go home!
go pee!
Ashley: ok!
me: thanks for chatting with me!
Ashley: thank you!
see you soon
me: ::hug::
Ashley: all that stuff
me: <3 bye



Michael J. Epstein said...

You crazy kids!

Ashley Willard said...

I believe the preferred term is cuckoo.

MacKenzie said...

and/or towanda.

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